Elebuwa: Dark cloud on movie kingdom

Enebeli Elebuwa

MAUREEN AZUH writes that the death of  veteran actor, Enebeli Elebuwa, on Wednesday has heightened the death scare in the entertainment industry
After a prolonged battle with ailment said to be stroke-related, veteran actor, Enebeli Elebuwa,  on Wednesday finally left the stage that the world is. The sun set on his life in an Indian hospital.
Following his death, several artistes have taken to the social networking site, Twitter, to pay homage to him. Actress Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde,  who said she saw Elebuwa as a father,  tweeted, “He looked so much like my father. He joked many times that he was. I lost one 21 years ago now you too are gone! Adieu Enebeli Elebuwa!”
Tweeting with doubt or not willing to believe the obvious, another actress, Omoni Oboli, wrote on her profile, “If it is true that my worthy colleague Elebuwa,  has passed on, then it’s a sad day in Nollywood! May his soul rest in peace.”
On her part, Emem Isong, a movie producer, writes, “Rest in peace Elebuwa. Another big loss for Nollywood. May God grant his family the fortitude to bear the loss.”
Some singers have also left condolence messages on their profiles, with Sidney Esiri otherwise called Dr. Sid writing, “My condolences to the family of Enebeli Elebuwa. The Lord is your strength. He was a great man and a Nigerian icon.”
Even among Nigerian movie enthusiasts, the messages have been pouring in on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and popular websites. One of the comments read, “All my lovely elder actors are dying, but Elebuwa,  may your gentle soul RIP. Is very painful what is happening in AGN. Death everywhere; we need prayer because the death is too much.”
Like Isong and many others rightly pointed out, Elebuwa’s death is one too many for Nollywood and indeed the Nigerian entertainment industry. In the past two years, several practitioners have been forced to take untimely bows due to ailments, out of which stroke is the latest entrant.
A few months ago, popular stage actor, Gogo Ombo,  died from partial stroke that resulted from a long battle with diabetes. Ombo was closely followed by Yoruba actor,  Ahmed Oduola (Dento).
What makes Elebuwa’s death painful  to some people is the effort that was put into trying to make him live longer. After battling the illness for some time, he was reportedly taken to the Perfect Christian Ministry in Surulere, Lagos in an apparent search for healing.
He was taken to Pastor Fireman’s church afterwards, where there were claims that the actor had been healed. The claims were followed by a video posted online with Fireman practically dragging Elebuwa around for the world to witness.
At a point, he was taken to his home town, Utagba Uno,  in Delta State before the state government came into the picture, sent him to an Abuja-based hospital before he was taken to India where he finally died.
The deceased had in October raised hopes that he was getting better when he phoned from India to say,  “I’m getting better.” But this was not to be. A source close to him said he suffered sclerosis as opposed to the popular view that it was stroke. But whether it was sclerosis or stroke, the fact remains that Elebuwa would perhaps have survived if medical care had been made available to him from the beginning.
Most Nigerian artistes, who had died from prolonged illness, suffered such cruel fate due to lack of funds. Although nobody has considered the possibility, artistes could actually look inwards and see how to forestall such misfortune.
Elebuwa was by all means a prolific actor, whose vacuum cannot be filled. He began acting in 1974 with the movie, Dinner with the Devil,  produced by Sanya Dosumu,  and shot in celluloid. He later acted the role of Andrew in a short television campaign against brain drain in the late 80s with his popular slogan, “Andrew, are you checking out?”, which earned him the name ‘Andrew’.
He joined Nollywood in 1994 – after several years as a producer and director with the Nigerian Television Authority – and featured in several movies.

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